When was the last time you went to the library to actually look for a book and borrow it? The American Library Association reports that in 2011, library usage increased by 5 percent as compared to the previous year. Small growth, but growth is growth. However, this increase does not necessarily equate to library patrons looking for more printed books and reading them. In fact, the same association states that the “nature and composition of collections in U.S. public libraries is changing, indicating the more varied types of materials found in modern public libraries. Although the volume of print materials has decreased over the past 10 years, collections overall continue to grow because of increases in the number of audio, video, and electronic book materials.”
It’s not the first time we’ve encountered the question: Are libraries moving towards being exclusively digital?
If Judge Nelson Wolff of Bexar County in Texas has anything to do with it, this might just be the case. At least in the county library system. He is working on a public library project for his county, and he has decided that it should be bookless from the get go.
On the outset, it may seem that the judge is one of those people who are too eager to fully embrace digital books and throw away traditional prints. You couldn’t be more wrong in thinking that, however. The truth is the judge is an avid book lover, with a collection including 1,000 first editions. It seems, though, that he simply is adjusting to what he sees is the future: digital books.
So, after months of planning the library system, he came up with BiblioTech, the first bookless library in the country.
It’s all very futuristic, isn’t it? But what will traditional book lovers have to say about this?
There is no need to panic, actually. The judge emphasizes that they have no intentions of replacing the traditional public library system of the city. Instead, BiblioTech is meant to be a complementary resource centre, something that enhances the entire system.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: nothing beats the feel and smell of a real paper book, but there is also no denying the convenience of ebooks. With that, I am rooting for the success of BiblioTech!
Image via TheCreativePenn